Old photo sparks memories
AN old photo in a recent issue of the Gazette sparked some memories of days gone by for New Norfolk’s living legend Ken O’Brien.
The World War II veteran, retired businessman and local historian says he was inspired by a photo of fellow veteran, lawyer and politician the late Joe Dixon filling up his BSA motorcycle during one of his first visits to New Norfolk.
The photo accompanied a story about the 85th anniversary of the law firm Mr Dixon established here in 1933, now managed by son Stephen Dixon.
“The young man serving out the petrol to Joe Dixon was Don Espie,” Mr O’Brien told the Gazette. “Don and I went to school together, although he was quite a few years older than me. After he left school he went to work at the garage where this photo was taken, that's alongside the dentist's surgery in Burnett St.
“The garage there was only really an old tin shed and it didn't do too well. After it closed down, Les Salter opened a grocery shop in there.”
Mr O’Brien recalls that alongside this grocery shop the Salters built a house for their sister Ella, including a small shopfront.
“She made cakes and used to sell them in a shop window which was really the front room of the house.”
A two-storey dental surgery was built next door to Ella Salter’s shop during the Depression years, and this still stands.
“A dentist of French origin named Pete Desmazure lived upstairs and ran the dental surgery,” Mr O’Brien said. “He was there for many years and then that surgery was taken over later on by Gavin Potter after World War II.”
Later in the 1960s and ’70s when branded petrol stations started popping up everywhere, the block occupied by the old garage and Ella Salter’s house was bought by Golden Fleece and they built a service station there.
Mr O’Brien said the eventual result was that there were soon too many petrol stations in New Norfolk.
Golden Fleece closed and the site was later taken over by Beaurepaires.
Don Espie, who had been photographed pumping petrol for Joe Dixon, joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a mechanic at the start of World War II.
“He was sent to England as most of the air force people were, and he was stationed up in Scotland where he worked on the aircraft that were going out hunting the German Uboats in the North Sea.
“He married a Scottish lady there and I remember they came back with much fanfare after the war.”